The 2016 Pistachio Crop is one the industry has been anticipating for years.
Bearing acreage has been increasing at a rapid rate. In 2008, there was a total of just 120,000 acres. This year there are 300,000 acres in the ground, about 235,000 of those bearing acres.
So it’s not like industry experts like Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers, didn’t see this year’s huge crop coming.
“There is no doubt it is a record crop,” he said in mid-October, “the question is by how much.”
The previous record was 555 million pounds in 2012. That’s only a little more than half the 1-billion-pound crop Matoian said he expects somewhere around 2020.
And last year’s crop came in at 275 million pounds, just over one-fourth the size. “We knew it would be an ‘off’ year,” he said earlier this year, “but we were expecting about 500 million pounds.”
So in other words, this year is more like it. By late September, when harvest was only 75% complete, Matoian said growers had already delivered what would be a record crop, 619 million pounds. Based on that, the feeling is this year’s crop will top out at about 800 million pounds.
Per-acre yields are up significantly. The 2015 average was just 1,160 pounds per acre, a half ton off the normal “off” year yield of 2,200 to 2,400 pounds per acre, Matoian said. That 2015 per-acre yield was the lowest since 1989.
All Systems Are Go
Yields are up this year for several reasons. First, as mentioned above, even-numbered years are “on” years for a crop that’s alternate-bearing in the extreme.
Second, the trees were extremely well-rested after bearing such a tiny crop in 2015.